Children’s Creative and Cultural Experiences

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 9th July 2015.

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Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Labour, Slough 9:30 am, 9th July 2015

What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Education on children’s access to creative and cultural experiences; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

Obviously, my Department works very closely with the Department for Education. In fact, the Secretary of State and I will do a joint event at the Creative Industries Federation and will talk about our massive success in music and cultural education. We might mention, for example, the £460 million that has been invested since 2012.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Labour, Slough

The problem is that that investment has not increased children’s cultural and creative experiences. The Warwick commission revealed a drastic decline in music education and that only one in 12 British people are, as it put it, culturally active. Will we continue to see this decline under the Conservative Government so that only those people who can afford to send their children to expensive public schools will be able to ensure that their children get the chance to learn music and to experience live theatre?

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

Our Taking Part survey shows that since 2008-09, participation by children aged between five and 10 has increased, the number of children going to our museums has increased, the number of pupils taking arts GCSEs has increased—and so on, so forth. I do not share the hon. Lady’s view.

Photo of Liz McInnes Liz McInnes Labour, Heywood and Middleton

Does the Culture Secretary agree with the Education Secretary that studying arts subjects holds children back for the rest of their lives?

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

No, he does not, because that is not the Education Secretary’s view. Labour Members seem to take the view that if we talk up science, we are somehow talking down the arts. My right hon. Friend was not doing that at all. I suggest the hon. Lady reads the speech.

Photo of John Mann John Mann Labour, Bassetlaw

Bassetlaw parliamentary summer school is having a wonderful week, not least—as shown by the incredible feedback I received last night—in respect of the session featuring you, Mr Speaker. Does the Minister not agree that there is a problem for children living way away from the big cities such as London in that they do not have the same cultural opportunities as those who are living in the big cities, meaning that the Government need to intervene to ensure that resources go there to provide those opportunities?

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

I absolutely agree that we should support pupils wherever they live. That is why we have, for example, the museum and schools programme to help young people visit regional and national museums, and the heritage schools programme, which has been a huge success. I take the hon. Gentleman’s point, but we are working on it.